The DART Board: 04.08.2020

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 8, 2020

As artists and designers continue inventing new ways to navigate the shifting terrain of producing and distributing their work, there seem to be as many success stories as there are disappointments. One such tale of incredible disappointment combined with unexpected delight came in yesterday from artist and Illustrator, Gayle Kabaker. She wrote to say that after spending a restful month in Mexico, she returned in March to hang an exhibition of the 100 portraits she had painted during the past year. Above: Amanda Nguyen, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Kabaker, whose vivid, fashion forward images have been on magazine covers and editorial pages for more than 35 years, was commissioned by Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international NPO that champions female leaders, to create portraits of 100 of these individuals.

“Painting such a wide range of women of all ages, from all over the world and 'getting to know' each of these amazing, strong, brave women by reading about them and studying their faces carefully from photos in order to catch their likeness in a painting, has felt like such a privilege,” said Kabaker about the proect. “It’s been quite an education. Sometimes uplifting and exciting, other times, really painful to realize the tragedies in these women lives that led them to become activists. I am so lucky to have an amazing creative collaborator in Vital Voices President, CEO and co-founder Alyse Nelson, who gave me lots of creative freedom to let each painting dictate what felt right. This has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked o

Gayle’s work was organized into an exhibition scheduled to run at the Kennedy Center in the Hall of Nations from March 8 to March 21, with an awards ceremony on March 11 for six of the women. The show was hung; the following day all events were cancelled. In an email today she said, “I was so disappointed that the opening was cancelled. I was able to reach friends and family who were supposed to fly in. But I realized how lucky I was that the show was hung, and I got to live with it for five days. My flight home was for March 12. I went there daily—sometimes twice a day; the guards began to recognize me. These women I'd lived with all year on my studio walls were now in this grand new home. I joked that i didn't want to leave them at night—and I'd just sleep there. 

Left: Nigerian-born Obiageli Ezekwesili, best known for #BringBackOur Girls

"The president of the Kennedy Center told a wonderful story about speaking to a guard who told her how proud he was that a woman from his country—Nigeria—was represented and how he'd sent photos of her portrait home to his family and friends.

"I was able to walk the exhibition with friends, family and clients. I sat on a bench and watched people looking at the portraits and reading about the women. I watched people taking selfies or photos of each other in front of portraits. As artists we can be terribly isolated and hearing so much positive feedback .on the portraits after working so hard on this for so long was just incredible.” Read the feature about her project in the Washington Post,here, with many of the paintings included.

Sheltering in Place and Social Distance demand incredible attention, let alone patience. One of the best ways to alleviate distractions, isolation, or close cohabitation, many report, is by taking online courses. With all events cancelled I’ve had time to improve my Photoshop skills—something that there’s never been enough hours in a day to consider doing. 

This week the Center for Book Arts announced a series of classes designed for entertainment as well as enrichment during your quarantine. And nice enough, they are being offered on a Pay What You Wish basis. A long-time CBA habitué, I can assure you that any of these would give you a lift, so give it a go. Above: live class in CBA bindery

April 14 + 21: Artists Books & The Everyday—using only materials you’re likely to have on hand. Info

April 20: Make Your Own Chapbook—featuring instruction for basic typography in InDesign. Info

April 22: One-Page Artist Books—using a single sheet of paper, with collage in unexpected materials you likely have in your space. Info

April 27: Zines at Home!—variations on the accordion book plus image-making techniques. Info

April 28: Words without Borders—translate your poetry from French or Arabic to English, and share thoughts with the group online. Info

Photographer Cate Dingley, who, it must be said, was one of my students at ICP back in the day, wrote in to tell about developing a routine for donning and decontaminating her PPE. Cate’s New Normal:

1/ Bundle up head to toe, plus mask & gloves

2/ Pack almost nothing in your backpack cause that’s less stuff to disinfect later

3/ Lysol the hell out of rental car (get Lysol migraine)

4/ Keep 6 feet away from people! 

5/ Purell, purell, purell

6/  When home, go straight to laundry room in the basement. Strip & start laundry, then run through the building to your apartment in your undies, shoes, & backpack (this is the one fun part)

7/ Dump backpack outside front door, jump in shower immediately 

8/ Be paranoid you forgot to disinfect something the rest of the night. Cate’s website

Magnum Photos is running a special edition of their Square Print Sale through April 12th, in collaboration with The Everyday Projects. More than 100 images by international visual artists are being offered, with 10% of proceeds to benefit Médecins Sans Frontières’s COVID-19 emergency response. (MSF), an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.  The participating photographers looked over their personal archives in search of images relating to, or capturing events that changed the course of history, society, a life, or a practice. Above: Elliot Landy, USA, Woodstock, NY, 1968. Bob Dylan outside his Byrdcliff home. Infrared film.

Update: This just in from Magnum Photos: 

This Square Print Sale, in which you can purchase signed or estate-stamped prints by over 120 of the world’s leading photographic artists for $100, sees Magnum photographers donating 50% of their proceeds to Médecins Sans Frontières’s COVID-19 emergency response. 

We are also thrilled to announce that these donations will be matched by a private charitable donor, up to a figure of $500,000.

Magnum Photos was founded in Paris in 1947 as an artists’ co-operative by four pioneering photographers: Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David “Chim” Seymour. The legendary photo agency continues to shape photographic practice and maintains its original values of uncompromising excellence, truth, respect and independence, representing an idiosyncratic mix of journalist, artist and storyteller..

Everyday Africa began in 2012 in Ivory Coast as an effort to rise above the media-driven stereotypes that plague the continent. Following its viral success, an international movement began as like-minded storytellers worldwide created their own @Everyday feeds on Instagram that use photography to combat cliché, promote local norms, and celebrate global commonalities - forming The Everyday Projects, a non-profit organization. The group now covers regions from Latin America to Asia, Australia to the Middle East, Mumbai to the Bronx — covering topics spanning climate change, mass incarceration, and more.

By Peter Kuper   Tuesday April 7, 2020

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday April 2, 2020

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 1, 2020

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